The effects of rheumatoid arthritis could be suppressed with a vaccine developed from patients’ own blood cells.
Cells are taken from the patient before being altered to suppress – rather than activate – the immune system and injected back into the affected joint.
Preliminary studies have been carried out by researchers at Newcastle University, who are now ready to test the vaccine on a group of volunteers from the city’s Freeman Hospital who already have the disease.
Professor John Isaacs said that although the work was in a very early, experimental stage it was “hugely exciting” and, if successful, could signal a major breakthrough in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
A similar technique has been used in cancer research, but this is the first time it has been adapted to rheumatoid arthritis.
Although there is no cure for the disease, new drugs have been developed, but these suppress the immune system – leaving patients at risk of developing infections.
The new research hopes to find out if the vaccine is effective only in the injected joints, or whether it is disseminated throughout the body through the lymph nodes.
Copyright PA Business 2008
“God bless the research centre and all its researchers for developing a vaccine that will help so many people – including myself – that have to live with this terrible pain on a day to day basis. I believe rheumatoid arthritis is one of the worst things a person has to live with, so for me and many others, this news brings about real hope.” – Yolanda Mckenzie, Texas, USA
“If the new vaccine suppresses the immune system like the new drugs do, then the advantage seems dubious. The new drugs can be stopped if there is over suppression of the immune system. What about the vaccine, can its effects be reversed?” – Maurice Zarb Adami, Malta
“Research is still underway to determine the systemic effect of such vaccines. Comparisons with other immunosuppresants, in terms of adverse effects, still cannot be made unless the above is fully determined.” – Clayton John Fsadni, Malta